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December 9, 2014 2

Noodles in New York City

By in Asian, New York

Have you ever experienced a bruised heart while on vacation? I don’t recommend it, but if you must tend to a heart wound while traveling, New York City is a good city. Though not known for its friendliness, New York City and all its nooks and crannies can be a warm cocoon to those in need to cry. There’s even a tumblr rating places in New York based on how accommodating it is to crying.

Last month I visited New York City with a group of friends and you see where this is going right? I had an unexpected falling out with someone I was traveling with and became a New York City cliche. That girl crying on subways by herself.

I can laugh about it now which means I can finally write about it. Really, New York City caters to the broken hearted. I myself medicate with bowls of noodles, spending time with good friends, and browsing book stores. I got all three of these needs met during my disastrous trip. There is so many of the nation’s top rated ramen places in the city. Also, part of the city’s magic is it’s one of those cities where I will always have a friend or two living there. It’s the revolving door of my social circle. When one good friend moves away, another moves in. Fortunately for me one of my best friends was in the city and he accompanied me two of the three ramen places on my list and also took me to the famed book store, The Strand. Had it been any other city, I don’t think I would have gotten this lucky!

momofuku
Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 1st Ave

I mentioned my New Yorker friend took me to two of the three ramen places. Two of the guys I traveled with accompanied me to the third. This bowl of ramen is from Momofuku. I had the original ramen with pork belly and poached egg. It soothed my achey soul. The star of this meal though was the amazing pork belly buns. Ask for them even if i you don’t see it on the menu. Sean and Nils and I were so ecstatic when we were seated after a measly ten minute wait. The night before I waited over two hours for Ippudo and they had waited over two hours for Totto. The trick is to get there right when it opens, at 5:30pm.

When you go, be a dear and buy some of their amazing cookies to take back to your friends at home! And I mean it about the pork belly buns!

tottoTotto Ramen 51, 464 W 51st St

Literally after leaving Momofuku, I left Sean and Nils and got on the subway to meet Nam at Totto. I had expected a long wait there but we got right in and I proceeded to have a second ramen dinner. Totto is Japanese for “chicken” so this is chicken based broth and it was delicious. I got my ramen with avocado. Not pictured but also quite tasty was the fried chicken.

ippudoIppudo, 65 4th Ave

Excuse the grainy cell phone photo, this was my first bowl of therapeutic noodles and I’m surprised I even snapped a photo. Nam and I waited over two hours which we mitigated by visiting The Strand and browsing books. It’s a few minutes away so I recommend killing some of that wait time by heading to the book store. I ordered the Karaka Men which is the “Tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodles. Nam also introduced me to Tako Wasabi, raw baby octopus in a wasabi sauce. I love it so much I now look for it every time I’m in a Japanese restaurant.

So that’s three comforting bowls of noodles in two days. Not pictured or mentioned was an entire pan of macaroni cheese from Freemans. Friends, noodles, and books, they soothe me.

I want to thank Blacklane for providing my friends and me complimentary luxurious rides to and from the airport for this memorable and delicious trip to New York. The drivers are professional, the bottled water was cold and refreshing, and it was such a welcomed sight to see our driver holding up a sign for us when we arrived back into the Austin Airport. I highly recommend them and they offer their services all over the world!

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November 7, 2014 1

Nothing is Permanent: Players Closing November 23, 2014

By in American, Austin

Players

300 W Martin Luther King Dr
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 478-9299

I’m moving from North Austin to South Austin tomorrow. When I moved into this current apartment last year, I was getting over a six year relationship. Now a year later, I’m getting over a new boy.

Nothing is permanent.

I’ve been in Austin since 2001 and I’ve moved over a dozen times. I am reminded that nothing is permanent just from moving so often. But one thing that has remained a fixture and source of comfort through all my years in Austin is a dive burger joint located on campus. It was recently announced that Players will be closing November 23, 2014 after serving the community since 1981.

Nothing is permanent.

Open 24 hours and within walking distance of my first place of residence in Austin, Players has been the place I would meet old friends to share countless milkshakes and french fries. No one went to Players just for the food. We went for the friendships and the late night conversations. Before last week, the last time I was at Players was with a handful of high school friends visiting after we all graduated from college. One such friend at this reunion dinner passed away last year.

Nothing is permanent.

I went to eat here with Anita during our lunch break last week to pay final respects to an Austin icon. We each had pensive moments as we reflected on the people we were with the last time we were there.

Nothing is permanent. Because of this, I try very hard to remain grateful for borrowed time and shared meals.

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October 20, 2014 5

Houston: Sweet Macarons from Sweet with my Sweet Momma

By in Desserts, French, Houston, New York, Paris

Both my mom and dad have worked really hard my entire life. I know that’s something we all say about our parents, however my parents worked holidays and weekends. They owned a convenience store that kept them tethered from 7 am to 10 pm every day, weekends and holidays included. It explains how I was never a big fan of Christmas. They have taken a total of 4 days off the last 20 years and it was to attend the high school and college graduations of my brother and me. So I was excited when they finally retired this year. I can finally hang out with them outside of the store and our home! I’ve dreamed of this for so long!

A couple of weekends ago, I was in Houston for Geeky Hooker’s wedding and was preparing to drive back to Austin on a Sunday. I’ve been inviting my parents out every time I’ve come to Houston after they’ve retired but they usually resist me. I have also been planning a return trip to New York City with a few friends for Halloween weekend. One of the food stops I planned on making was to go to Ladurée to eat their macarons (I experienced them in Paris and learned they have storefronts in NYC). Since planning this, I’ve been craving macarons and luckily, I have a favorite spot for macarons in Houston, which is much more accessible than NYC or Paris. I offered to take my mom with me to make a macaron and coffee run. Much to my surprise, she actually accepted my invitation!

One of my biggest joys in life is introducing people to new experiences. My dear mom has never killed time at a coffee shop or eaten macarons. She’s never lounged in public or enjoyed leisurely people watching. I bought some of my favorite flavors from Sweet. Green tea, honey and lavender, earl grey, and coconut. I also bought a couple of new to me flavors, pumpkin and chai tea. We parked ourselves on a bench and nibbled on the dainty pastries and sipped on drinks. I spent hundreds of hours through the years at coffee spots with my friends and they’re some of my happiest moments in life. To have this with my mom for the first time felt like a dream. She giggled and confessed, “I never want to leave!”

That’s when we decided. Every time I’m in Houston, the day I drive back to Austin, I’ll spend a couple of hours with my mom sitting in public and gazing at the world together. Macarons optional.

Sweet Mom

Sweet Macarons
Macarons, $2 each

You can see photos of my very first visit to Sweet back in 2011 here.

Sweet
801 Town & Country Blvd
Ste A120
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 647-9338
http://sweethouston.com

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October 14, 2014 2

Santorini, Greece: Volcano Blue

By in European, Greece, Mediterranean

Volcano Blue
Fira, Santorini, Greece
http://www.volcanoblue.gr

Remember when I told you we met some Canadians in Mykonos, Greece? They had just arrived from Santorini and we were on our way, so they pointed us to Volcano Blue in Fira, Santorini. We stumbled on the restaurant late one night and walked in and made a sunset reservation for the next day.

We started with mussels and then all ordered more mussels for our entrees. I ate my weight in pasta and mussels while I was in Greece. There were a number of decidedly average and bad meals that won’t be mentioned on the blog. This one though was one of my favorite meals. The view couldn’t be topped and the fresh and delectable mussels was moderately priced. The servers were kind and quirky. We caught our server discreetly making a duck noise. When I asked if I heard him correctly, he asked if we wanted to hear what noise rabbits make when they eat.

For dessert, we joked about ordering more mussels but we had the baklava and a chocolate soufflé. The soufflé wasn’t the flaky soufflés I’m used to and was more a dense chocolate cake cooked in a ramekin. The baklava wasn’t the best we’ve had in Greece either. If I could do it again, I’d skip dessert and order more mussels!

The sun was long gone by the time we ordered dessert so I don’t have any photos to share. Instead, please accept another shot of the view.

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October 6, 2014 5

Lunch in Mykonos, Greece: Aperanto Galazio

By in Greece

Mykonos

Ornos Beach, Mykonos, Greece
+30 22890 27991
http://aperantogalaziomykonos.com

Yassou! That’s “hello” in Greek. In September I island-hopped around Greece with MJ and Anita and was blown away by the country’s beauty. The first island we ferried to from Athens was Mykonos, also known as the “party island.” We were there long enough to make friends with three Canadians, eat lunch with our new friends, browse the city center and its darling shops and sunbathe.

Not every restaurant we happened upon blew us away but the first delicious meal I had in Greece was in Mykonos on Ornos Beach at Aperanto Galazio.

Veal Scallops in Truffle

I ordered the pappardelle with veal and truffle. Pasta and truffle oil are two of my favorite things. The veal was tender and I was eating this meal with sand in between my toes, amongst old and new friends, and while overlooking a beach view. Oh, just a lunch in the life…

Our Canadian friends had come from Santorini and we were on our way there. They gave us a recommendation for their favorite dining experience in Santorini. More on that next time!

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August 27, 2014 3

Due Forni

By in Austin, Italian

Due Forni

106 E 6th St
Ste 106
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 391-9300
http://dueforni.com/main/index.html

I had a real bad case of the Mondays this Monday. I was experiencing a lot of angst and was also stressed about preparing for my trip to Greece, which by the way is tomorrow! All I wanted to do was crawl under my work desk, curl into fetal position, and wait till dinner with Amy, Julie, Shelly, and Michelle at Due Forni. The five of us try to meet up every month or so to bond over good food and to catch up on the happenings of each other’s lives. It was just what I needed to get out of my funk.

The server informed us that Due Forni is Italian for “two ovens” which is quite a literal description as they have two ovens to offer two kinds of traditional pizza crusts. The Neapolitan crust pizzas are baked at 900 degrees for 90 seconds, yielding a more pliable texture. The Roman crust pizzas are baked at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, producing a crisp crust. I also learned this Austin restaurant is the second location of Due Forni, the first one is located in Las Vegas.

Due Forni

Due Forni; tomato, mozzarella, house made sausage, bacon, peppers; $16.95

Michelle, Julie, and I each ordered a different pizza and shared. Julie ordered the Due Forni with the Neapolitan crust. It was hearty with a slight kick.

Prosciutto E Rucola

Prosciutto E Rucola; prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, vincotto; $16.95

Prosciutto and arugula pizzas are my go to orders when I order pizza. I was the only one who ordered the Roman crust which worked very well with this pizza. Though this is my standard order everywhere, I fell in love with the next pizza.

Tartufo

Tartufo; black truffle, parmesan crema, fontina, roasted cremini mushrooms, baked over easy egg; $20.95

Austin’s pizza scene has been flourishing the last year or two which was why I was undecided on whether I’d come to Due Forni on my own accord based on the first two pizzas. But the Tartufo sold me on Due Forni. I’d come back for this pizza. In fact, it was so good, I’m okay with just ordering this every time. Truffle, parmesan crema, and runny egg is quite a decadent trinity!

Double Chocolate Cupcake Bread Pudding

We ended on a sweet note with the double chocolate cupcake bread pudding. It didn’t taste quite like a bread pudding but more like a cast iron brownie, which was still fine by us!

The meal and great conversation were just what I needed on Monday! If I had to cut down this post to just one sentence, it would say, “If you go to Due Forni, order the Tartufo on Neapolitan crust.”

Well, I’m off to eat Greece for the next week!

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August 20, 2014 2

Brunch at Odd Duck

By in American, Austin

Odd Duck
1201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 433-6521
oddduckaustin.com

I’m losing count of how many times I’ve been to Odd Duck yet I’ve never been for brunch. I’ve also never had a mediocre experience at Odd Duck, speaking to both their food and their service. My first brunch experience was another testament to their consistently wonderful establishment. We were three not so hungry girls and were stuffed with these five small plates. Also consumed but not pictured, multiple cups of coffee and glasses of peach bellinis.


Bibb lettuce; fried oyster, buttermilk, grilled okra, boiled egg; $10


Quiche; summer squash, goat cheese, leeks, peppers; $7


Kolache; goat cheese, jalapeño jam; $5


Tater Tot Hash; confit of goat, poached egg, brown butter hollandaise; $14


French Toast; zucchini bread, buttermilk peach ice cream; $8

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August 18, 2014 0

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

By in Austin, Food Event

During Memorial Day weekend in 2011, Daniel Curtis slipped while diving into his pool and suffered a spinal injury so serious that it rendered him a quadriplegic. His friends and colleagues at AT&T Education and Conference Center rallied together with the best chefs in Austin and raised money for his medical expenses. He has made great strides in his recovery and since then has hosted a yearly fundraising event aptly named, Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis, aimed to raise awareness about the spinal cord injury community and benefit Lone Star Paralysis Foundation.

This year, like previous years, some of Austin’s most celebrated chefs came together with Daniel to share their talent with delectable bites. There was also a silent auction and a performance from The Spazmatics. It was quite an uplifting and fun party. I cannot imagine anyone hearing Daniel’s story and what he’s done in the wake of a life-changing accident to continue being a positive force in this world and not be inspired and humbled.

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Odd Duck’s Baked Brie, Stuffed with Figs and Greek Chili

Play it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Jack Allen’s Shepherd’s Pie

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Uchi’s Smoked Corn Dashi, Gulf Crab, Papalo

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Uchiko’s Lemon Cream, Papalow Ice, Local Melon

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Austin Cake Ball

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
St. Phillip’s Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
“Clam Chowda” – New Crop Red Potato-Leek Vichyssoise with Black Pepper Crèma, Olive Oil and Marinated Littleneck Clams

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Carillon’s Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup with Crab

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
Carillon’s Achiote Glazed Filet of Beef

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August 16, 2014 2

Lunch in the Life: Cenote

By in American, Austin, Coffee shops

1010 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 524-1311
http://cenoteaustin.com


Cenote Omelette; tomato, onion, arugula, pesto, capers, goat cheese; $9

I drive by the darling mint colored house turned eatery that is Cenote pretty often and have yet to go in. So last weekend when Anita and I had a meeting scheduled to hammer out the last of our Greece trip bookings, I suggested we meet at Cenote. I chose a light omelette to eat and the cortado to revive me from a very late night (or morning?) out. I tend to indulge with heavy meals when I eat out but the lightness of this breakfast at lunch time was just what I needed.

After we ate, we stayed another hour and finished booking ferries and flights to finalize our Greek island hopping adventure that is in just two weeks, making this lunch quite memorable. We even made friends with our dining neighbors and crashed a first date happening less than two feet from our table.

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August 2, 2014 1

Watermelon Honey Mint Popsicles

By in Desserts, drinks

Popsicles

I’ve been seeing pretty homemade popsicles on my social media feeds and the very day I decided to buy molds to make some of my own, I was gifted a set. How’s that for synchronicity?

I blended watermelon, drizzles of honey, a squeeze of lime, and about 3 leaves of mint and was quite pleased with the results. I used all natural ingredients and the flavor profile is perfect for a hot summer day. My friends and pup have been enjoying these pops today. Be sure to taste the mixture before freezing. You can make these a few days before serving the popsicles and serve the remaining blended mixture as watermelon juice. Don’t forget to garnish your drink with mint leaves to make it feel special!

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